Ousted Hong Kong lawmaker ‘Long Hair’ Leung Kwok-hung vows to take appeal against protest conviction to city’s top court
After successfully appealing against his seven-day jail sentence last week, the opposition legislator says he will try to have his conviction over 2015 protest against Carrie Lam overturned by Court of Final Appeal
Ousted opposition lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, who was convicted over a protest against Hong Kong’s leader, vowed on Tuesday to take his appeal to the city’s top court to demonstrate why peaceful demonstrations should not be criminalised.
Leung and fellow activist Tam Tak-chi were found guilty in 2016 of disrupting a student debate competition in 2015. They staged a protest against then chief secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, now the chief executive, at the event organised by newspaper group Sing Tao.
Although the pair successfully appealed against their jail sentences last week – turning what was a seven-day jail term for Leung and a suspended jail sentence of the same length for Tam into a HK$3,000 fine each – they failed to clear their convictions.
On Monday, they returned to the High Court, which refused their conviction appeal, seeking leave to lodge a further appeal to the Court of Final Appeal.
Mr Justice Wilson Chan Ka-shun on Tuesday refused to grant them a legal certificate that would normally be viewed as an endorsement by the higher court.
“I am of the view that the point of law … is not arguable,” Chan said, after taking a day to review their lawyers’ argument.
Outside court, Leung pledged to take the appeal directly to the Court of Final Appeal saying it was not right that peaceful protesters were prosecuted in such a way.
At the 30th Sing Tao Inter-School Debating Competition, held in May 2015, Leung and Tam joined a wider group to wave banners and shout slogans in protest of Lam, then the city’s No 2 official, who was the guest of honour at the event.
They were channelling their ire at Lam because at the time she was the official in charge of pushing for a legislative election reform proposal deemed restrictive and unacceptable by pan-democrats.
On Tuesday, Leung said: “Any civilised place will not criminally prosecute protesters who do not resort to violence.”
He was particularly upset that he and Tam were charged under the Civic Centres Regulation, which his lawyer previously argued to be unsuitable.
The ordinance could apply because the demonstrators were protesting at Queen Elizabeth Stadium, a government-run venue, notwithstanding it being a private event.
Leung called it an “utter revenge upon a peaceful protest”. He said they were prosecuted because they had embarrassed the privileged guests present, including Lam,
He blamed former justice minister Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung for abusing the regulation.
The veteran activist said they wanted to clarify in their appeal that peaceful protests should not be criminalised.
He said the organisers could have evicted them, applied for a court ban, or sued them for damages – which the organisers did – but protesters should not be charged.
“I did not even trespass. I had an admission ticket,” he said.
In another courtroom, another judge, master Andy Ho Chi-yin, was told that both Leung, Tam and another defendant, Mandy Tam Heung-man, were ready to go to trial in the civil claim brought by Sing Tao Daily Newspapers Publishing Limited and The Standard Newspapers Publishing Limited over the alleged disruption.
The trial, which centres on a claim of more than HK$1.57 million in damages from the three, is expected to last for six days, though the dates have not yet been decided.